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Rated: 13+ · Book · Biographical · #2257228
Tales from real life
Well, if they're not true, they oughta be!
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January 26, 2023 at 12:33pm
January 26, 2023 at 12:33pm

The Xbox flap may be dismissed as 'chicken little' cackling from the Faux News Network, but it begs the question of why an Australian billionaire is allowed to use the public airwaves to usher in the next zombie apocalypse? Why doesn't the FCC act to stop this nefarious plot by an avowed enemy of democracy? Is there, in fact, a deep state conspiracy so entrenched that it might well be described as down under?

Every day, a nonstop barrage of Faux images and Faux tones are beamed into the homes of mentally challenged Americans. The insidious damage continues 24/7, slowly eroding empathy and gradually dulling reason until the victims are no longer able to form independent thoughts. The result is a mindless mob that can be directed to elect a fascist dictator or even to attack the Capitol of the United States of America.

The technology behind this electronic attack is much the same as that used against American embassies to injure diplomatic personnel. High-pitched audio programming plays over the shrill yammering of the Faux news actors. Subliminal images are interlaced with their leering faces. The subversive commands infiltrate the subconscious mind and convert decent, patriotic citizens into unrecognizable monsters who serve an Aussie master.

Message boards on the dark web have long named Rupert Murdoch as the prime mover in this horrific conspiracy. His spidery touch pulls the strings and ties the plot together. And his persona can be seen shining from the eyes of one Donald J. Trump. Has anyone ever seen a non-photoshopped picture of Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump together? Of course not! Trump is merely an ugly and offensive character played by Murdoch in the same way that Tony Clifton was played by Andy Kaufman. It's no coincidence that Murdoch stepped back from public view during the Trump administration. And we all know that his 'executive time' was spent on Faux business. The awful truth is that Trump is an inside joke perpetrated by America's worst enemy.

Sexual harassment of cartoon characters and calling climate change a woke conspiracy are mere subterfuge. Nothing more than a Faux ploy to distract attention from a very real conspiracy to bring down America from within. So, let's turn off the Faux journalists who've traded their integrity for Australian dollars. Let's return to our values of truth, decency, and tolerance. It's time to expose the Murdoch conspiracy and stop his attack on American values!

January 23, 2023 at 3:11pm
January 23, 2023 at 3:11pm
Stooping ever lower . . .

Greeting the Dawn by Earl E. Reiser

Here I Come! by Freddy R. Knott

The Final Chance by Philip D. Poole

Famous Last Words by Thaddeus Auel Ffolkes

Unbelievable Claims by Lou D. Crist

First in Line by Jocelyn L. Bowes

Terms & Conditions by Warren T. Card

The Ultimate Challenge by Helen Highwater

Coming Out Ahead by Annette Proffit

Heros of the Confederacy by Leanne Jackson

Facing Catastrophe Together by Ardis Astor

Only Odd Breaks by Chita Zucker

Dig Those Beefy Buns! by E. Tina Berger

Rue and Regret by Ree Morse

See also:   "Another Pile of Peculiar Books
January 19, 2023 at 1:02pm
January 19, 2023 at 1:02pm

I used to work with a quiet older guy named Gary who often sat in on our bull sessions. He laughed at the funny stories and commiserated with our tales of woe, but rarely contributed himself. One day, the topic was telemarketers. We all expressed our disgust with the broken-English scam calls that claim to come from Microsoft.


Gary surprised us by chiming in, "I get rid of those guys pretty quick. I just use my most simple-minded voice and say, 'but I don't have a computer'. That stops 'em cold."

We nodded in agreement, but Gary wasn't quite done.

"Of course, it didn't work as well with the guy who wanted to sell me triple-pane vinyl windows. He swore at me and hung up when I told him, 'but my house doesn't have windows'."

It was a funny bit and Gary demonstrated his simpleton voice to make it even funnier. But what really sold it was the unexpected source. Everybody expects a gag from the class clown. The straight man can take you by surprise.
January 7, 2023 at 1:47pm
January 7, 2023 at 1:47pm

The pain of human being
is the cost to be alive,
but art that’s suffered gladly
gives us reason to survive.

Infinity of yearning
compels an endless strive,
that mortal inclination
might transcend instinctive drive.

January 5, 2023 at 3:26pm
January 5, 2023 at 3:26pm

This entry was inspired by a newsfeed post from Adherennium - Unwrapped

Basic Theory

All written material begins in a ground state defined by comic scientists as 'not-funny'. A spark of creativity may add enough comic energy to elevate material to an initial quantum level of 'funny'. This process is not guaranteed, however, and insufficient creativity will cause the material to spontaneously fall back to the not-funny state. A further infusion of comic energy, known as 'delivery', is required to elevate material from the funny state to the higher quantum comedy states of 'joke', 'mirth' or 'hilarity'. The removal of comic energy is achieved by a process called 'poor delivery'. Poor delivery can cause material to fall back all the way from hilarity to not-funny.


A more advanced concept concerns the duality of the unexamined joke. Comedy particles known as bits exist in an undetermined superposition of funny/not-funny until analyzed by an objecting audience. The act of measurement, however, drains the comic energy and collapses the joke to its original not-funny state. This is known as the principle of explanation.

Quantum Tunneling

Tunneling is perhaps the strangest concept of quantum comedy. An effect known as the 'non sequitur' can warp the laugh-time continuum and transport comedy bits directly to a state of hilarity along a vector known as the 'punch line'. No one really understands the mechanism of the non sequitur, and its end point seems to be wholly random. The path of a non sequitur is difficult to predict and often loops back to the not-funny state.

Dark Matter

And, of course, no discussion of quantum comedy would be complete without the dark material known as the 'pun'. Comic scientists estimate that as much as 90% of comedy is made up of this dark material. Real comedy does not recognize or interact with the pun in any way. However, the influence of the pun on normal life can be inferred through the groan effect.

from wackypedia . . .
December 25, 2022 at 6:25pm
December 25, 2022 at 6:25pm
The list goes ever on . . .

Elements of Destruction by Anne T. Madder

Barbershop Snippets by Hank O'Hare

Notes at the Window by Sara Nader

Kiss the Moon by Myra B. Hynde

Creating a Lush Landscape by Leif E. Busch

Home Canning by Mason Jarre

The Official Officiants Handbook by Marion Mann

The Monkey's Uncle by Harry Gibbons

The Big Book of Landfill by D. Bree Pyle

Touch of Shock by A. Tesla-Coyle

Proper Portraiture Display by Wally Hooks

Coping With Diarrhea by Louis Bowles

See also:   "The Bottom Shelf?

See also:   "Yet More Books I'd Like to See
December 23, 2022 at 3:49pm
December 23, 2022 at 3:49pm

My sister sent a pretty picture of her Montana snowdrifts today. I'm happy to miss out on them, and also the 30 below temperatures! (Minus 30's in Celsius, also.)

The snowdrifts bring back childhood memories from when my dad delivered the mail on our rural route. He took the 'neither rain nor snow' slogan seriously and almost never missed a day in his 20-year career. One winter morning, we woke to 4-foot drifts and no school bus. Dad said no problem, we could just ride into town with him. We tried to get out of it, but Mom said go. So, we bundled up to brave the icy trek to school instead of relaxing with comics and hot cocoa.

A mile of unplowed, uphill gravel road separated us from the highway. Some stretches were swept bare by the frigid wind, but there were also some deep drifts. Dad got up to ramming speed and busted through a couple of the smaller drifts, but he was stymied by a 4-footer about a quarter mile short of the pavement. There was far too much snow to shovel, so he had to turn back. But that didn't mean giving up.

The roads in the area are laid out in a grid along section lines, so dad tried again a mile further west. That road is more level, except for one steep hill. Dad took a run at it, but it was too slick, and the car slid sideways against the snow piled up at the edge of the road. This time we were really stuck. Or were we? Dad told us kids to get out and push, but sideways, not forward. We all pushed on the front fender of the car to spin it around. The road was pure ice, dad wiggled the steering wheel, and the front tires slowly slid in a 180-degree arc.

We went another mile west, dad found an open roadway, and we finally made it onto plowed pavement. From there it was a relatively easy trip to school and on to the post office. We found that school was canceled and the kids from town had been sent home. It was too late to do us any good, however, we had to wait for dad to come back in the afternoon. A few other kids were in a similar predicament, so we all had a day-long study hall in the Junior High building. A dozen bored students of various ages and one annoyed teacher who had to babysit made for a long day.

At least the trip home was downhill.

Author's note:
December 17, 2022 at 2:12pm
December 17, 2022 at 2:12pm

I sometimes wonder about the mental process that led our ancestors to brew beer. It may not be rocket science, but it is somewhat complicated. Beer production starts with soaking barley and allowing it to germinate. Then the malt is mashed and steeped to release the starches and sugars. Hops and spices are added to enhance the flavor and the wort is boiled. Then yeast is added, and fermentation can begin. The process takes three weeks or more depending on the type of beer. Then the finished brew must be bottled and aged for a month or more to smooth the final product. It's difficult for me to imagine the centuries of trial and error that culminated in modern brewing.

Wine, on the other hand, is almost inevitable. Once you've squeezed out some fruit juice, it merely takes a couple of weeks of lazy inattention to achieve fermentation. I bought a gallon jug of pure apple cider last fall and set it out on the deck (because the fridge was full). Our deck is on the shady north side of the house, so the outside temperatures were cool. I enjoyed a glass of fresh apple cider every day for a week or so. Then the appeal faded, and I forgot about the jug for a few days.

There was still about a quart of cider when I finally got back to it, and I heard a noticeable 'whoosh' of released pressure when I removed the cap. I knew very well what had happened and decided to try a sip of the now 'hard' cider. It wasn't half bad, slightly fizzy, tangy on the tongue, and definitely alcoholic. Unlike the recipe for beer, this kind of serendipitous discovery is easy to understand.

The cider incident reminded me of making balloon wine when I was in high school. I don't remember where I came across the idea, but it was dead simple, so I had to give it a try. All it takes is a couple of cans of grape juice concentrate, water, sugar, yeast, a glass jar with a narrow neck, and a party balloon.

The grape juice can be red, white, or even rosé (if you use a can of each). The resulting liquid will almost fill a gallon jug and adding an extra cup of sugar ensures that the little yeasties are well motivated to excrete alcohol. I didn't know any better, so I snuck a pinch of baker's yeast from my mom's spice cabinet. The wine probably tastes better with real brewer's yeast, but it's alcohol either way.

The balloon is kept deflated while being stretched over the neck of the jug and then the 'wine vat' is hidden in the back of your closet where mom won't find it. The balloon magically rises and expands as fermentation gets underway. Three weeks later, the balloon will sag a bit to signal that the ordinary grape juice has miraculously become fine wine.

There'll be a surprising amount of sediment on the bottom, and yeast poop is not tasty at all, so that needs to be separated out. We had a milk strainer (and a milk cow), so I used one of those paper filters and a funnel to carefully decant my wine into another clean jug. It's recommended that the wine age for three to six months before drinking.

I didn't have the patience to wait for six months (or even one month), so my friends and I drank it 'raw'. And that's the way I remember it going down.
December 10, 2022 at 4:30pm
December 10, 2022 at 4:30pm

Q:   Where does a six-foot ten former pro basketball player sit?

A:   Anywhere he wants to!

I was working at the Allen-Bradley sales office in Bellevue, Washington when I met Tom Black. He had a brief career in the NBA, playing for the Seattle Supersonics during the 1970-71 season. Tom passed away in 2017. I didn't know him well, but I'll always remember his oversized presence.

Now owned by Rockwell Automation, Allen-Bradley is an industrial company that began making electrical components in 1903. Their products include switches, relays, and factory automation equipment. I worked there from 1984 to 1986 as a product applications engineer. In 1985, Allen-Bradley purchased a small company that made barcode scanners. I've forgotten the name of that company, but their Seattle area sales rep, Tom Black, was part of the deal. Of course, corporate didn't bother to tell us.

We were a small office at the time, with only a half dozen employees, and our receptionist was at lunch when Tom showed up. He was carrying a cardboard box of sales brochures and desk supplies. I was closest to the front door, so I greeted this imposing figure with more than a little curiosity as to what he might be selling.

"Hello, can I help you?"

"Yeah," he smiled, setting the box down and offering a hand the size of a catcher's mitt.

"I'm Tom Black and I work here. Where should I put my things?"

I looked him straight in the sternum and said, "um, okay, sure."

I led him back to an empty desk where he explained the situation while moving his things in. We laughed about the lack of communication from above and our office manager repeated my slack-jawed performance when he noticed the tall, dark stranger in town. Corporate hadn't informed him, either.

I enjoyed Tom's company around the office, and I always marveled at his sheer size. We had cubicle furniture with five-foot high walls, just about eye level for me. One day, I saw Tom collating copies on the top of his cubicle shelf. What was eye-level for me was a handy work surface for him. Another time, we were enjoying a beer after hours and commiserating about receding hairlines and expanding waistlines. We each had our own sad tale about being out of shape. Tom joined in with his own unique take.

"Yeah, it's tough alright," he agreed. "When I got out of pro ball, I swore I'd never let myself get over three hundred pounds. But damn it, here I am."
December 9, 2022 at 2:13pm
December 9, 2022 at 2:13pm

As we approach the new year, many resolutions will pass through people's minds. Some will be mentioned aloud, a few will be written down, and one or two might even be accomplished. With that cheerful prospect in mind, here are some thoughts on portfolio organization:

Free Account:

Folders aren't available to free accounts since they're allowed only 10 items. And they aren't allowed to create books, so that point is moot. There's little to be done in the way of organizing, but you can create separate items for poetry, short stories, non-fiction, horror, romance, etc. More than one piece can be saved in an item, but the size limit for each is 50 Kb. That's about 25 pages of text, so you can't really write a novel. Still, a collection of two dozen poems or a few short stories could be presented in a single item.

Basic Account:

A basic membership allows a portfolio of 50 items, and each can be up to 100 Kb in size (about 50 pages of text). A list that long is probably too much for our modern-day attention span. It may be better to use folders to direct the reader. Some authors name their folders for the year the items were written. This is easy, but most readers don't care, they're looking for something more specific. Love poems, for example, or horror stories. I'd suggest that an author start by collecting their items into folders of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, recipes, lyrics, etc., and then further organizing them by genre. Then the reader can find all the mushy stuff by clicking once on 'Poetry' and then again on 'Love Poems'. And they won't have to scroll past horror stories that could spoil the mood.

Upgraded Account:

250 Kb is about 125 pages. An upgraded membership allows 250 items. At this level, it becomes imperative to organize one's portfolio. And 250 items may seem like a lot, but it's easier than you might think for an author to bump up against the limit. It took me less than three years to get there. One obvious option is to simply delete the lesser works, but vanity precludes that.

The lower levels of paid membership allow fewer items in your portfolio. You can make the most of those items by putting similar items into a book.

Another good use for a book is to hold items that are in-work. A book entry has a 'preview' feature that allows you to quickly see how the finished item will look. You can easily jot a few notes into a book entry, set it to private and save it for later.

One drawback of using a book is that you can't attach an image to individual entries. I feel that an appropriate image can be a big help in setting the mood for the piece.
Another drawback is that awardicons cannot be attached to individual entries within a book. They can, however, be referenced within the entry itself. My method is to create a drop note and show the awardicon there. The ML code shown below will create the drop note shown further below.

{dropnote:"Author's note:"}
20 lines of free verse

Second place in the September 2022 round of {i}Second Time Around{/i} contest

Prompt: Help celebrate WDC's 22nd birthday. Just for this month, all entries must be previously written pieces that did not win a contest, and that have a birthday or a party theme.



Author's note:

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